Writer's Cramp!!!

  1. I am currently trying to finish a term paper on a subject I belatedly realized was rather vague and now I do not know how to focus it. Also, my brain seems to have turned to mush and will not create any sensible paragraph structure or logical progression of ideas. I have been staring at a computer screen for about four and a half hours now and have less than four pages finished; it is supposed to be 10-12 pages by Thursday. I do not see how that will happen. Well, I just wanted to vent (and, of course, take a break from my paper!! :imbar ) A week and a half more, and then- freedom until September 3rd! I can't wait.
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    About perfectbluebuildings, BSN, RN

    Joined: Feb '03; Posts: 1,716; Likes: 423


  3. by   Agnus
    Sounds like time for a chocolate break.
    Sleep on it. Then first thing come back to it and pick a very very narrow part of what you have already reasearched. And write on ONLY that. It is hard to give better advice than this not knowing what your general topic is.
    Try outlining. That usuallly helps the flow.

    You have a broad topic. that covers a lot of territory. Pick a tiny aspect of it.

    I belong to a group who regularly prepares and delivers speeches. This is the hardedst thing for a new speaker. We have them do a first speech that introduces themselves to the group they have 4-6 minutes.

    You cannot tell your life story in 4-6 minutes. You can't even do it in 20 minutes.

    We teach them to focus on only 3 main points.
    Tell us what you are going t say. Make your 3 points. Then summerize.

    That means the speak has only about one minute for each point. You can't cover all there is to know about even those 3 points.

    So find one aspect of your project. Make 3 basic points about that one aspect and you are done.

    Last edit by Agnus on May 14, '03
  4. by   PlanetCaroline
    Paper writing, the bane of my existence in college, until I pursued a career in writing grants. I've learned some things from writing professionally:

    * First, diagnose the cause of your writer's block-- Have you done the prep work before writing your paper? Have you gathered your sources, read the material, taken notes, and made a detailed outline of your paper? My worst blocks came when I didn't outline. I hated outlining, but every foundation I wrote a grant for gave me an outline. When somebody wrote the outline for me, I loved it. It gives structure to a mammoth task. If your outline is detailed enough, you can bang out a 10-15 page paper in 2-4 days.

    * Two, if have done all your prep work and still have writer's block, then you may be having a motivation or confidence problem. You may hate your topic, your class, and therefore do not want to do the project. Maybe you have perfectionistic tendencies and expect that every sentence you write should be great. Perfectionism & writing are not compatible. Emotional issues are harder to overcome. Try to have realistic expectations of your writing skill. If you have done good research it will show in your paper. Don't worry about slightly messy organization, stale word choice, or shaky grammar. You are training to be an RN, not the next Hemmingway.

    Here are some writing tips once you have diagnosed your problem:

    1) Apply discipline: Write at least a page every 30 minutes. If it takes longer, walk away. I am a slow typist (20-30 wpm) and can easily write a page in under 30 minutes. If it takes longer, then I am wasting time and should take a break.

    2) Hold your nose and write badly: It is easier to edit bad prose than it is to invent good prose. Just do it. Spill as much as you can as fast as you can. However, be prepared to delete large parts of your text.

    3) Edit, edit, edit. You will love what editing will do to your paper. I once wrote a 3 page personal statement & then went through at least 30 drafts. It took a long time, but because of the editing, the piece turned into the best essay I've written in my life.

    Oh yeah, btw, even though I got paid to write, I am not the best writer. I'm not an artist, just somebody who appreciates that writing is an important tool for communication. Afer all, without writing there would be no discussion forums like this one.

    Hope this helps. Good luck.

  5. by   perfectbluebuildings
    Hey guys, thanks for your help!! Your ideas made a lot of sense. I finally got it done Thursday afternoon, I narrowed it down to a more specific topic and just ground it out! It wasn't the best paper I ever wrote, but it's DONE!!! And it was the last paper for the semester! Three finals next week and then summer, here I come!!
  6. by   HollieRN
    "2) Hold your nose and write badly: It is easier to edit bad prose than it is to invent good prose. Just do it. Spill as much as you can as fast as you can. However, be prepared to delete large parts of your text. "

    I recently learned this one when i was writing my own term paper ... No matter how bad it sounded in my head, as long as i had it written down, i could edit it. VERY good advice
  7. by   Mkue
    Good advice HollieSRN06

    Rayrae, I hope you are allowed to type the paper.

    Good luck !
  8. by   Furball
    Try and go do something else with paper and pen closeby to jot down ideas that spring from a relaxed mind....then try again tomorrow. Worked great for me!

    Oh, just read that you finished...that's great!